Reading and Listening

I’ve just finished Mark Dawson’s “The Cleaner”, the first book in the John Milton thriller series, and it was a was a pacey, enjoyable novel. I need to read or listen to lots of novels in this crime/spy genre to help me write in that area. In the last few weeks I’ve read or listened to novels by Val McDermid, Robert Bryndza and Mark Dawson. I’ve found that listening to audio books supplements my reading and as an added bonus, I can listen and paint at the same time.

Listening is also very useful for determining the flow of the language, however the actor reading has a huge impact on the overall experience.  Some novels I’ve listened to have been poorly read and I’ve abandoned listening to them after 50 or 60 pages, and returned to reading them instead.

I had never really considered before how important the skill of a good reader is. Now if I’m going to buy and listen to a novel for perhaps 8 or 10 hours over a week, I make sure I’ve heard samples read by that reader, before committing to it.

There is also something very satisfying about sitting back and closing your eyes and just listening, taking in the words, the different accents, the cadence, the descriptions and imagery and the flow of the story. Part of the pleasure for me, I think, is because it brings back childhood memories when I occasionally listened to serialised books read on BBC Radio 4, with my mother, after I’d come home from school.

But audio books are not cheap, often the price is €10 to €20, sometimes more than the price of the paperback, and I’ve been spoilt by Amazon Kindle pricing where so many books are priced at €1.99. I guess the price is higher because it’s for a reading actor’s performance and a writer’s creation. offer a €9.50 one audio book per month option but that’s no comparison to Spotify’s €9.99 per month for millions of music tracks (and some audiobooks too), all month long. It’s not about the quantity, you can only read or listen to so much, but I would definitely subscribe to a service which offered audio or reading of any book at any time. and are getting there, but currently with a very restricted book catalogue.